Use of plastic adhesive drapes during surgery for preventing surgical site infection

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 22;2015(4):CD006353. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006353.pub4.


Background: Surgical site infection has been estimated to occur in about 15% of clean surgery and 30% of contaminated surgery cases. Using plastic adhesive drapes to protect the wound from organisms that may be present on the surrounding skin during surgery is one strategy used to prevent surgical site infection. Results from non-randomised studies have produced conflicting results about the efficacy of this approach. A systematic review was required to guide clinical practice.

Objectives: To assess the effect of adhesive drapes used during surgery on surgical site infection, cost, mortality and morbidity.

Search methods: For this fourth update we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (searched 4th March 2015); the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2015, Issue 2); Ovid MEDLINE (2012 to 3rd March 2015); Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, 2012 to 3rd March 2015); Ovid EMBASE (2012 to 3rd March 2015); and EBSCO CINAHL (2012 to 4th March 2015).

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials comparing any plastic adhesive drape with no plastic adhesive drape, used alone or in combination with woven (material) drapes or disposable (paper) drapes, in patients undergoing any type of surgery. Ring drapes were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently selected and assessed studies for trial quality and both independently extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information.

Main results: We identified no new studies for this fourth update. The review includes five studies involving 3082 participants comparing plastic adhesive drapes with no drapes and two studies involving 1113 participants comparing iodine-impregnated adhesive drapes with no drapes. A significantly higher proportion of patients in the adhesive drape group developed a surgical site infection when compared with no drapes (risk ratio (RR) 1.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.48, P = 0.03). Iodine-impregnated adhesive drapes had no effect on the surgical site infection rate (RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.06 to 1.66, P = 0.89). Length of hospital stay was similar in the adhesive drape and non-adhesive drape groups.

Authors' conclusions: There was no evidence from the seven trials that plastic adhesive drapes reduce surgical site infection rates, and some evidence that they increase infection rates. Further trials may be justified, using blinded outcome assessment to examine the effect of adhesive drapes on surgical site infection, based on different wound classifications.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesives*
  • Humans
  • Iodine / therapeutic use
  • Length of Stay
  • Plastics*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Surgical Drapes / adverse effects*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Adhesives
  • Plastics
  • Iodine